You may recall our recent review of AcousticSheep’s SleepPhones. We had some issues regarding the mobility of the speaker drivers inside the headband itself, and getting tangled in the headband’s cable as the wearer slept. Thankfully, AcousticSheep’s fitness alternative to the SleepPhones, the RunPhones, is a much more practical product that mostly delivers on its promise to provide audio while on the run or at the gym. The RunPhones are currently available in a “Summer Version”, which means the headband material seen in the SleepPhones has been replaced with a moisture-wicking Polartec® PowerDry® mesh material. I love the way this material feels while I am jogging in Southern California weather. In the mornings, when it is actually cold outside, it did a fine job of insulating my forehead and when it heated up, the mesh material allowed enough air to flow through it to keep my forehead cool. For the fashion conscious out there, the RunPhones are available in blue, orange, black, and green colors.
Setting up the RunPhones is as simple as plugging its speaker cord into a 3.5mm output jack on whatever source device you are using. My iPhone 5 had no difficulty interfacing with it and I am very happy to say that the audio, because of it sitting on top of the ear, inside the headband, allowed ambient noise to still be audible. While this means your music is a bit lower than an earbud or headphone that inserts into or completely covers the ear, it is a heck of a lot safer to use while at the gym or running on the trails. I tend to run in more wooded areas and wise is the runner that keeps one ear open as mountain lions are always hungry and runners are crunchy.
The biggest problem I see in selling the RunPhones is the sheer amount of variation in purchasing it. The base price is $39.95 at the official RunPhones website and, thankfully, that covers all three sizes of the band: Small, medium, and large. The issue comes when customizing the speaker cable which, in its standard form, doesn’t raise the price of the unit any further. However, you can select a “Braided (Fabric) Cord” for $5 dollars more, a “Volume Control Cord” (no mention if it’s braided or not) for $10 dollars more, and a “Mic, Play/Pause & Volume Control,” for an additional $20 dollars. Again, there is no mention as to whether the most expensive option features a standard rubber or braided cord. With so much differentiation, it makes reviewing the RunPhones as a product difficult. We got the chance to review a medium size headband with the braided cord, but that might not be the RunPhones purchased by another person. I would rather see AcousticSheep simplify the process in a couple different “tiers” or levels of RunPhones (“RunPhones”, “RunPhones Pro”, “RunPhones Mobile”, etc) based on much broader needs – but, I digress.
In their wisdom, AcousticSheep has designed the RunPhones to be washable, with the speakers pulled out of the headband, of course, and there is plenty of cable length to channel down the back of your track suit, tank top, or whatever else you like to wear while running. The 48″ inch speaker cable might be an issue for those of you who like to run shirtless as you will have to find a way to tie up the slack – perhaps in a sports arm band or something of the like. I usually run in a tank top while wearing a hydration pack, so the speaker cable channeled down into the pack without an issue. I also took the RunPhones into the gym on several occasions – however, I did have to tie up the slack in a fitness arm band as it is not customary to wear a hydro pack inside. With the previously-mentioned AcousticSheep product, the SleepPhones, I had an issue where laying down in bed could cause the speakers to move around inside the headband. Even while jogging, this was far less of an issue with the RunPhones. I am unsure as to whether it has to do with the pocket that the speakers sit in or the material of the headband itself, but it works much better.
Overall, I definitely recommend the AcousticSheep RunPhones for listening to music as you jog. Just be selective as to what type of cord you are choosing as we did not get the opportunity to review anything higher than the most basic version of that option. Being the case, we don’t know what the higher end cords are like and can’t speak on them.